Persuasion Theory Review


1. Rational Model

2. E.L.M.

3. Hovland

4. McGuire

5. I.E.M.

6. Balance Theory

7. Congruity Th.

8. Dissonance

9. Social Judgment

10. Attribution

11. Reasoned Action

updated 1/15/16
 Tips for Explaining "Persuasion Moments"

I. Cognitive - Rational Theories ( involves channeling  thoughts)

     A.  Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) 


1.The Two Routes to Persuasion -- Persuasion depends on receiver motivation to think/care, that is, personal relevance of the issue and ability to think about the persuasive topic.

Peripheral route - you have low attention, little mental processing occurs, less persistent effects

Central route - you are considering the merits [elaboration] of the arguments, higher attention and mental processing. See Rational Model above

   2.  The greater the individual's motivation and ability to "elaborate" arguments, the more the central route will be used.

     B.  Rational Model -- (Aristotle and traditional rhetoric is related to RM.)

B + V &/or M = attitude - - - > behavior

II.  Learning Theories  conditioning, comprehension and incentives.


A.  Hovland's Learning Theory

1. attract attention 2. be understood and comprehended 3. learn (recall) arguments and accept them as true.   4. have an incentive to learn/ change.


B.  McGuire’s - 2 Stage Theory

1.  reception stage - attention and comprehension

2.  yielding stage - evaluation of source and arguments


C.  Identity Emotive Model

1.  the message (ads) project an identity  2.  the message sets a context in which to enact an identity   3.  an object (product) is linked with identity/situation/ mood  4.  justification of why object (product) is needed to achieve identity by receiver occurs.


III.  Consistency Theories - inconsistent cognitions create pressure for change.  Change may be 1) change attitude (toward source or congition/belief), 2) compartmentalize, 3) deem irrelvant, 4) bolster previous views, 5) seek to change source, etc.


A.  Balance theory - Heider


                               (+ or -)   /     \   (+ or -)

                                          C -?-  R


B.  Congruity Theory - Osgood's improvement on balance model.

 When a source favors a concept favorability of source and concept move toward each other on the -3 to +3 persuasion continuum.


C.  Cognitive Dissonance:  Leon Festinger - We have cognitions (ideas) in our minds that may be a. consistent, b. dissonant, or c. irrelevant with each other.  dissonance causes pressure for change.

Case 1 - Decisions  (choice of car)  

Case 2 - Involuntary exposure to counter information  

Case 3 - Social support (Confronting a source who disagrees with you)   

Case 4 -- Forced compliance (offer rewards or punishments for doing something not liked)

IV.  Perceptual Theories


A.  Social Judgment Theory - assimilation & contrast

1. Messages falling in the Lattitude of Acceptance produce attitude change.  2. Messages falling in the Lattitude of Rejection produce NO attitude change or evan a boomerang effect.


B.  Attribution Theory - how we attribute motives, actions, affects our interpretations and, thus, persuades.  If the receiver attributes a self-serving motive to the persuader, his/her credibility declines and resistance to persuasion increases.  If a receiver believes a source is advocating a position counter to his/her own personal interests, credibiliity of the source rises and persuasion increases.


V.  Fishbein-Ajzen Theory of Reasoned Action -- Behavior-Attitude Discrepancy

Behavior is the result of both --  A. attitude toward object AND  B.  attitude toward behavior